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Love him or hate him, give Jake Paul some credit for Taylor vs Serrano

Jake Paul is not a favorite of the serious boxing fan community, but his performance as a promoter and more this past week has shown what he can add even without fighting.

Jake Paul helped make Taylor vs Serrano a massive event
Jake Paul helped make Taylor vs Serrano a massive event
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Jake Paul is hated. He is also loved by many, of course, as you don’t reach the level of pop cultural relevance he has simply by being hated, but we’re a boxing web site talking to boxing fans. And in our world, in large part, Jake Paul is hated.

Maybe not as much as he used to be, in part because he’s got some better qualities, which we’ll get into, and in part simply because some have gotten used to him. He no longer stokes a raging fire for those people, because he’s kinda always around now.

This is not about Jake Paul’s in-ring career, which figures to resume sometime this summer against Tommy Fury or someone from the Matchroom stable or, well, I’m sure there are some washed-up former UFC champions who generally weigh 20 or 30 lbs less than him to fight again.

This is about what Jake Paul might be best at long-term, and that still could involve a consistent presence in boxing. But if we’re judging by this past week and Saturday night in particular, maybe that won’t be too grating a thing.

Paul promotes Amanda Serrano. A lot has been made of that over the last year or so, and he was able to help put together a fight that normal boxing promoters Eddie Hearn and Lou DiBella saw fall apart on them two years ago. It was a fight fans wanted then and wanted now, but it was never going to be, like, a truly huge event in the wider scope of the boxing world.

Until it was.

Taylor vs Serrano on Saturday night was an unforgettable experience. Whether or not it truly “sold out” Madison Square Garden or just came really close doesn’t actually matter much. MSG was filled with fans, and they were passionate. The Taylor supporters, many of whom traveled over the Atlantic, were incredible. The Serrano supporters, many of them local, were amazing. Neither group relented for 10 full rounds, and from the ring walks on you knew this was a special night.

Jake Paul, of course, does not deserve all the credit, or even the main credit for that, but he deserves a good bit. He has not promoted Serrano merely as a gimmick, or as someone to stick on his undercards in Cleveland and Tampa. He went out and secured her by far her biggest payday in a major main event at one of the sporting world’s most iconic venues. And along with Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn, he led a promotional blitz unlike we’ve seen in years.

Hearn and the Matchroom side seemed to handle the normal boxing logistics and normal boxing promotion, though amped up from an average fight, even an average big fight. The push was tremendous, but the tools were basically what we’ve seen before. Paul added the ability to bring attention to the event from angles that boxing has still struggled to catch up with, even in 2022 — the internet in general but social media especially, and finding a younger audience that maybe doesn’t have much interest in boxing overall, but can be convinced to give something a try if the right person sells it to them.

Jake Paul, clearly, was that right person, and it goes beyond just his celebrity status and the demographics he reaches. It worked not only because he’s Jake Paul, but because he did the job well.

Paul took part in all fight week events. He took part in fight week events we don’t normally see, like a live Q&A with fans alongside Hearn, where they just got the word out even more and engaged a lively audience that had come to New York to see the fight they were promoting. Even when some attempted to heckle Paul or make it more about him, he did his best to slip around that and make sure the focus was on Taylor vs Serrano. The bet he and Hearn made publicly brought a little more buzz, too; whether it was a real bet or just a promotional thing doesn’t matter that much. It added to the conversation.

Katie Taylor v Amanda Serrano - Undisputed Lightweight Championship Fight Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

On Saturday night in particular, Jake Paul slipped out of his public persona. He did a good ringside interview with the DAZN crew alongside Ryan Garcia, then sat down to help call the action for the Jessie Vargas vs Liam Smith co-feature.

Personally, I thought that was going to turn out poorly. Jake’s ringside interview could have been pretty well rehearsed, or at least given a good outline that he could remember. But calling a live fight is a lot tougher. I thought having to talk for that long, that consistently, might backfire.

It didn’t. Paul was keyed in on the fight. He called the action and gave insight as well as most people who call fights. And more than anything, it was clear he was enjoying himself. Jake Paul didn’t make any of that about himself, he was focused on a good fight between Smith and Vargas, which Smith won via 10th round TKO.

It was maybe the clearest evidence yet that Jake Paul doesn’t take boxing as a joke. I tend to agree with Eddie Hearn that Jake’s never going to be some world champion level fighter or anything, but this is something he’s pretty obviously grown to love, more than just the part of it where he makes money to club old MMA fighters and retired basketball players in the head.

There is a future in the boxing world for Jake Paul. At some point relatively soon, he’s not going to be 25 years old anymore. He’s not going to forever be a cool internet celebrity; those get replaced quickly by new young people coming along.

If and when Jake hits a point in life that he needs something more “mature” for his main job, boxing promoter might really be up his alley. Paul would have plenty to learn, of course, but he’s been around some good people to study, and can keep doing so going forward. He doesn’t have to play the loud caricature that has made him a lot of money. He doesn’t have to troll forever. He showed that on Saturday, and in the build for this fight.

You don’t have to suddenly like Jake Paul, but he deserves some credit alongside the fighters, Eddie Hearn, DAZN, and the boxing fans who bought in and wanted to be there, making Saturday at the Garden a night to remember.

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